When I started this interest in genealogy we had very little information on my husband's side of the family. Just stories passed down that had never been verified. I knew his grandfather, Christian Wismer Ruth had been a pastor and was born in California.
What I did first was to put his name in Wikipedia. There was Christian with several entries. So began the very fruitful and interesting journey into the life of C. W. Ruth.
The entry sent me to new information about his church affiliation and places that he traveled. These both have been very productive clues in tracing the Ruth family line.
Eventually I tracked this line to Pennsylvania where I made the discovery that the family has Mennonite origins! None of the current family members even knew the early ancestors had fled religious persecution to come to this country.
The next step was to research newspapers to see what information could be traced to these Pennsylvania Mennonites. I found an article by the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Department called "Newspaper Research" that gave me helpful tips to proceed. Also, there is a tutorial on Genealogy.com.
With time spent researching I recently found on the Family Search Beta site this wonderful repository of information called MennObits. Pay dirt! There listed were detailed accounts for almost every member in the family tree.
So if you are fortunate enough to have family with certain religious heritage or live in very small towns historic newspapers are just the ticket!